Friday, April 23, 2010

Structures - All Of The Above [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

Quick, what’s Canada’s number one metal export? If you guessed Devin Townsend and/or Rush (if you consider the latter proto-metal at least), then partial credit and you have excellent taste to boot, but I’m more talking about our expansive tech-death scene. Bands of note include Cryptopsy and Gorguts, the latter of whom many metalheads consider to be one of the absolute pinnacles of extreme metal.

So Toronto-based newcomers Structures are serving up a more -core-based slice of the pie, but should still find a home amongst many fans.

Now, my writing this is probably an affront to any notions of even-handed professionalism, because I have to be honest – my first cousin is their bassist. But that does present us with a unique opportunity: I was able to sit down with Spencer MacLean and discuss with him about the new EP, in an exclusive interview.

Shrewd Vibrations: Hey, Spence. Glad you could make it.

Spencer MacLean: Hey Corey, good to see you again.

SV: So your debut record, or EP to be more precise, All Of The Above, was released this month. Could you talk a bit about the creative process that went into your songwriting?

SM: Umm…creative process. Alright, basically, we all spent about four or five months writing the EP. We scheduled recording time before we were even done, just before we were done any of the songs, just so we could push ourselves to finish in a timely manner.

So we did that, and then mainly, Andrew, Brendon and Spee [Spyros] came up with most of the basic ideas, and song formations. The rest of us pretty much just added our own little touches onto it, and collectively ended up with what we have.

Lyrically, myself, Nick, Spee and Andrew sat down for about a week and recorded rough tracks of just basically demo-ing ideas for vocals. Just trying out different vocal patterns to get the sound we were looking for. When it came time for the studio, we probably wrote about a song and a half while the guitars were being tracked.

SV: In the pre-Structures days, you were known as Charitys Downfall, and then Charity’s, and you played a style that wasn’t as influenced by technical death metal. Tell us how your new name and image reflect your music as it is now.

SM: Pretty much image-wise, we grew up a little bit, I guess you could say. Our musical taste did the exact same, and we started getting into different music ourselves, and deciding that instead of creating a generic form of music, we decided to take as many elements from as many different styles of music that we possibly could and combine them as one. Including, I guess you could say death metal, hardcore, pop-punk, and just trying to create something that hasn’t been heard before, while keeping with the heavy roots we have.

SV: Tell us about your musical influences, and the mindset that you take when you incorporate their influence into your music – be it a desire to capture the spirit that they had, or to take an existing style and enhance it in your own way, et cetera.

SM: We do a little bit of both, actually. We like to take a style that’s already been created, and play with it as much as we can. For instance, each member listens to fairly different music, ranging from the heaviest of death metal to the softest acoustic songs. Influences, for instance, would be Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, Misery Signals, Veil Of Maya, After The Burial, Periphery, Circa Survive, The Faceless, This Will Destroy You, Explosions In The Sky, Converge, Minus The Bear, Sky Eats Airplane and pretty much along those lines.

SV: It’s been said that consciousness is manifested through creation, and this is certainly true in the case of music. Can you talk about how your own inner thoughts and feelings are expressed through a “brutal” musical medium?

SM: Collectively as a whole, we all grew up listening to slightly heavier styles of music, and obviously wanted to emulate that. So when we got the chance to, and saw the energy that the crowd gave us, we decided to feed off that and continue on the road, and keep playing things that both challenge and excite us.

The live energy is really what drives it. It really has to be the determining factor that keeps us playing this style. We all love to see our crowds’ reaction and to notice that someone’s getting into your music, and flinging themselves across the floor, (laughs), really stands out for us. Along with lyrically, we all feel that our we can all relate in our own ways to the things we talk about.

SV: In this day and age, sites like Myspace have become the new tape-trading as a popular way for young bands to get noticed, but word of mouth still plays a very important role, and that’s seemed to work out very well for you. Since you were in this position not too long ago, what advice do you have for all those young bands who are out there playing shows and hoping to gain a following from word of mouth, and eventually scrape together enough to put out a record?

SM: I’d say that we’re still pretty much in the same boat, but basically, when you get to a show, play your heart out, pretty much. You want to be remembered as that band that had energy and got kids going, and overall left everyone with a good impression. Trying to do something different with your music is always a plus, and the easiest way to stand out in a venue filled with more conventional styles of music. Along with saving every bit of money you possibly have, because you will inevitably spend all of it (emphasis Spencer) before you get anywhere.

SV: Looking towards the future, let’s tackle what I’m sure is on a lot of fans’ minds: you’ve shown what you can do within the confines of an EP, but what are your expectations or hopes for the first full-length, musically and financially?

SM: Alright, where to start on this one…we’ve already scrapped one of the new songs we wrote, due to the feeling that it just wasn’t up to par with the EP. We’re looking to basically blow that EP out of the water, along with challenge ourselves even more musically and grasp what we cannot even play right now.

Currently we’ve got maybe a song and a half written, very subject to change. But we’re looking to go a little more in the direction of hardcore music, along with keeping it tech-y and heavy. Hopefully it’ll turn into something that’ll knock your socks off.

I think we’re giving ourselves around six to seven months to produce nine to ten songs, with all the characteristics mentioned before, along with showing a new side of each member’s musicianship. Expect rough demos to be up within the next few months. But as for the full-length, it probably won’t be out any time soon.

SV: Any last words?

SM: PLEASE check us out on our Misery Signals/Amity Affliction tour, going through Ontario, from May 18th to the 28th. If you already haven’t, please support us as much as you can, because I can vouch that we are all starving musicians. Check us out in the June issue of Alternative Press magazine, under the “Hometown Hero” section.

SV: Thanks for coming out. It’s been a pleasure.

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